The Friends of the 261 in cooperation with the Twin Cities & Western Railroad and its subsidiary Minnesota Prairie Line, will operate steam excursion trains featuring Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 this fall.
The trains will traverse former Milwaukee Road and Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway trackage. These will be the first 261 excursions to operate on the Twin Cities & Western since 2008, although the locomotive made test runs on the railroad in 2013.
Friday, Oct. 7: A special dinner train will depart from Chanhassen, a suburb on the west side of Minneapolis. It will head west on the former Milwaukee Road main line now operated by TC&W. There is no set destination for the train – it will head west as far as practical then head back east. Because there are no turning facilities that can handle No. 261, the train will be pulled by a diesel westbound, with 261 leading the train on the return trip east. For the remainder of the weekend, 261 will lead trains west with a diesel pulling it back east.
Saturday, Oct 8: The 261 Fall Excursion train will head west from Minneapolis Jct., towards Glencoe on what was the route of Milwaukee Road’s famed Olympian Hiawatha to Seattle/Tacoma and has not seen regularly scheduled passenger train service since 1969. The trip will be a homecoming for No. 261 – it operated on this trackage when it was in regular service for the Milwaukee Road between 1944 and 1954.
Sunday, Oct 9: This years 261 Fall Colors train will include a rare mileage trip over the Minnesota Prairie Line, former Minneapolis & St. Louis track that has not seen passenger service since 1960. These trips will operate from Minneapolis Jct. to either Gibbon or Winthrop.
Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 #261 pulled a round-trip “Fall Colors” excursion from Minneapolis, MN to Boyleston, WI (and return) in 2015.
The Oct. 8 and 9 trips will also include photo run-bys so passengers can capture photos and videos of No. 261 in action.
This year the Friends of the 261 are offering new special pricing options for Fall Color Excursion Train passengers. If you haven’t been aboard a Friends of the 261 trip before and are between the ages of 15 and 30, first time riders will be offered a First Time Rider Discount!